Travertine vein cut


Tile and natural stone flooring make a great choice for rooms where spills may be frequent or moisture content tends to be high. For this reason, you generally see these types of floors in kitchens, bathrooms, mudrooms, indoor porches, and entryways. This is especially true in the Ravenswood area where we are no strangers to a good rain or snowstorm that will have water pooling up on our floors. At Floor Coverings International North Chicago we have an extensive selection of tile and natural stone to choose from, including one of our favorites, travertine.


How and Where Travertine Is Formed

Travertine is a beautiful natural stone that was once almost exclusively sourced from Italy. Today it can be imported from various locations around the world, including China, Hungary, Turkey, Afghanistan, Spain, Guatemala, and even the US. As a member of the limestone family, travertine is a sedimentary stone that forms from the precipitation of calcium carbonate particles in ground water found in hot springs and limestone caves. As the water evaporates the calcium carbonate is left behind in layers that eventually harden under pressure to form travertine. While pure travertine is white, it is common for other organic and inorganic materials to mix with it and form natural variations in its color. Travertine is also known for its natural pitting, which is the product of carbon dioxide bubbles that are released during its formation. The process by which travertine is formed results in its distinctive varied appearance that makes it a highly sought after natural stone.


Historical Uses of Travertine

In addition to its natural beauty, travertine is also durable and highly versatile. It has been used as a building material for centuries, dating back all the way to ancient Egypt. Well-known examples of ancient buildings constructed primarily from travertine have survived to this day, including perhaps the most famous – the Roman Colosseum. Many modern examples can be named as well. In fact, the lobby of the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower) in downtown Chicago is made from travertine. In home, office, and commercial applications you can find travertine on countertops, fireplaces, walls, steps, patios, pool decks, driveways, and of course floors.


How Travertine Is Cut

When selecting travertine flooring you will have a choice to make between two primary cuts of the stone. A vein cut is a cut made across the bedding plane of the stone, perpendicular to the sedimentary layers (see image above). This produces what is effectively a side view of the stone that reveals the different colored veins and results in a more varied appearance. The more common cross cut is one made with the bedding plane so that it produces a top-down view of the stone (see image below). The cross cut reveals the marbled pattern and pitting in the stone, but it is often a more uniform look in travertine samples that have less variation.


Travertine cross cut


Caring for Travertine

As mentioned before, travertine is a very durable flooring material, but it is relatively soft compared to other tile varieties. For this reason some care and maintenance is required to keep travertine looking its best. Because of its composition it is sensitive to acid exposure, so it should be sealed, spills should be cleaned up quickly (especially acidic spills such as juices), and only approved cleaners should be used on it. This level of upkeep is minimal, and with proper attention your travertine floor should retain its attractive appearance and resale value throughout the life of your home.


There is plenty to love about travertine, and Floor Coverings International North Chicago has plenty of options for you to select from. Contact us any time to arrange your free in-home design consultation with one of our flooring experts!


Photo Credit: Vladyslav Danilin